Economist: Education Key to Improving State's Economy - 8 News NOW

Economist: Education Key to Improving State's Economy

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LAS VEGAS -- President Barack Obama will give his State of the Union address Tuesday night, and the economy is expected to be a main topic.

The unemployment rate shows that the economy is improving. Nationwide, the unemployment rate in January 2013 was at 7.9 percent. The rate this past month was 6.7 percent.

While the number of jobless people dropped across the country, Nevada still lags behind in the recovery.

More than 100,000 people are unemployed and have been left out of the recovery in Nevada.

One economist says the state may be better off in another five years, but it is a lack of education that is holding many people back now.

It is difficult to ignore some of the facts about Nevada's economy. The state still has one of the worst employment rates, key sectors of the economy, like construction, are still struggling, and nearly half of homes remain underwater.

Economist Stephen Brown is not overly encouraged by southern Nevada's economic prognosis.

"I would say the patient is getting well. They need to stay in the hospital a little longer," Brown said.

He say there is one group, more than any other, that is still suffering after the Great Recession.

"Our economy is leaving the uneducated behind," Brown said.

Brown says in the past, people could drop out of school and still land a well-paying manufacturing or construction job.

However, that is no longer the case with jobs shifting in the information and technology age.

Kevin Johnson knows the story all too well.

"I left off in my education at about one year in high school. I went to factory work from then on," Johnson, who has been unemployed for three months, said.

Out of work three months, he finally has found a job as a bartender. Now, he wants a degree to find a higher-paying job but simply can't afford to take the first step.

"First, you have to be able to afford shelter and food, before you can go to school," Johnson said.

Stephen Brown predicts President Obama's State of the Union address will cover some major economic issues for the country, but the major issue for Nevada will be left out.

"I'm expecting he will put forward some social programs to close the income gap, but not really programs to close the education gap," Brown said.

He says Nevada's workforce needs to be educated, before the economy can improve.

Brown also says the rest of the country has gained about 60 to 70 percent of the jobs it lost during the great recession. He says Nevada has only gained back about 30 percent.

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